Pregnancy is one of the most exciting times in a woman's life, and for most of us, the challenges are comparatively minor: a few months of morning sickness, some bouts of hormone-fueled emotional upheaval. But what happens if the unthinkable occurs and you're hit with a truly life-changing event while you're expecting your baby?
Take, for instance, Sarah Ewald, now 37, who was 11 weeks pregnant and married to a man she believed to be her soul mate. Then, her husband, Kyle, a truck driver, was killed when his rig overturned in a freak accident. Or consider Alicia Varinaitis-Kunerth who, at age 30, was eight months into a blissfully healthy pregnancy when she suddenly began having seizures. A few days later, her doctor diagnosed her as having a malignant brain tumor.
Despite the seriousness of their circumstances, Ewald and Varinaitis-Kunerth--and many women like them--found the strength and resources they needed to face their crises, deliver and care for their babies, then begin to rebuild their lives. Varinaitis-Kunerth credits a combination of herbs, diet, acupuncture and meditation with aiding her through the radiation treatment that helped beat her cancer into remission. Ewald says that it was the support of close friends, her religious faith and knowing she was carrying Kyle's son that allowed her to move on when going on sometimes seemed impossible.
We found many other courageous mothers with stories of their own pregnancy crisis, four of whom are profiled here. We think you'll find that the ways in which each of them got through the toughest days of their lives offers inspiration to cope with unexpected challenges--pregnant or not--when life pushes you to extremes.